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2016 G63

There's nothing quite like the Mercedes-Benz G-Class sports-utility vehicle. How many vehicles were designed at the request of the Shah of Iran, have served as the official transportation device for the Pope, are used as military vehicles by nearly every major country in the world, and are sold brand new fully swathed in luxury from car dealerships in North America?

Only one that we can think of: the G-Class. The G has been around for more than 35 years, although only since 2002 has the G-Class been officially imported by Mercedes-Benz. Previously, North American importation was through Santa Fe, New Mexico-based grey market importer Europa International. Since 2002, the G has been available new from Mercedes-Benz dealers, despite brief hiatuses.


The G was once expected to be replaced officially in the consumer market by the GL-Class sports utility vehicles, but its fans protested and Mercedes-Benz relented. Thus, despite a history dating back more than a generation, the G-Wagen is still built by Magna-Steyr in Austria and sold new.

Building on the G550, the G63 boasts a much more aggressive overall look thanks to a lower front fascia that is almost completely dominated by three enormous air intakes. Underneath the circular headlights are the same LED running lights seen on the G550, though a unique two-bar grille visually differentiates the G63 from its tamer sibling. It features dual side exhaust pipes mounted ahead of the left rear wheel.

Under the Hood

The G63 uses a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 engine that makes 563 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 561 pound-feet of torque from 1,750 to 5,250 rpm. It spins all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission.

Although it weighs over 5,800 pounds, the G63 is capable of reaching 60 mph from a stop in a physics-defying 5.3 seconds.

It'll hold its own off the beaten path, too. Like the G550, the G63 features full body-on-frame construction, solid axles front and rear, three differential locks and copious plating underneath to fend off rocks.

Life Aboard

Inside, the G63 feels a bit like a 30-year-old vehicle thank to an upright windshield, limited shoulder room and blocky design. Yet it's exceedingly well built and now features a new instrument panel and a center stack that brings the secondary controls into the 21st century. Standard equipment includes Mercedes-Benz's latest COMAND navigation, a harman/kardon audio system, a multicontour driver's seat with pneumatic bolsters and extensive premium leather trim, while G63-specific touches include designo leather upholstery with fluted leather door paneling.

Standard safety features include DISTRONIC PLUS, Blind Spot Assist and the parking aid PARKTRONIC with reversing camera. The ESP stability control system has been revised and now includes Trailer Stability Assist.

Key competitors

The Mercedes-AMG G63 is arguably in a class of its own as a decidedly truckish performance SUV, but it still faces competition from more modern and car-like rivals such as the Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and the BMW X5 M.